Non-Interventionism, The Sexton Doctrine, and GI Joe

Last night I got into a discussion with a conservative who is clearly a big proponent of interventionism. This person thinks that the only way to protect America is to fight them over there before they can come over here. This person said that the libertarian philosophy of non-interventionism doesn’t work because it allows attacks to happen here.

This person clearly doesn’t understand the philosophy of non-interventionism, at least as I see it.

Non-interventionism seeks peaceful relationships with all. It works to avoid or reduce any attacks from any side, while allowing all sides to maintain a position of strength in their own affairs. Similarly, the Sexton Doctrine’s “Absorb the first blow” seeks to avoid or minimize any attack.

Instead of a massive offensive military designed to fight vast wars over a period of decades, non-interventionism and the Sexton Doctrine use a military that is more focused on intelligence, rapid surgical strikes, and superior defense.

The key here is intelligence. The tagline for GI Joe is “knowing is half the battle”. I hold that the more you know, knowing can be 90% of the battle. The better our intelligence gathering and dissemination networks are, the more accurately we can know exactly when a new threat is in the works. This does NOT mean that we should employ methods such as torture, as there are far better means of obtaining critical information – including the age old “standard” espionage of either having agents infiltrate groups or covertly bartering with an existing member of the group for the information we need.

Once we know that an attack is imminent, we can at that point employ rapid surgical strikes to eliminate the specific threat. These teams should rely on the intelligence available and have at their disposal the fastest, most precise, and most covert weapons available. They should target the most crucial points of the threat, eliminate them, and leave as little other damage as possible. When truly effective, these teams would never have been known to exist, but all of a sudden their target will come up destroyed.

Relying on intelligence and rapid surgical strike teams will only get us so far in the real world however, as no intelligence system or strike team is fool proof or all knowing. That is where superior defensive forces, strategies, and technologies come to bear.

One old maxim is that the best defense is a strong offense. In matters of conflict, I hold a slightly modified view of that – the best defense is a strong offensive force intentionally held in a defensive position. This is why you don’t hear me calling for a scale down in the overall military force of the US. I agree that we do not make America safer by scaling back our military’s strength. Where I disagree with interventionists is that I believe that strength is best applied as a defensive force surrounding a much more compact area (specifically, the US itself) rather than as an offensive force that spans the globe.

As the Germans learned on both fronts of WWII, and we Americans learned in the Pacific as we drove closer and closer to the Japanese home islands, militaries – and more precisely, the men and women who make up those militaries – fight much fiercer and much more effectively the closer they are fighting to their own homes. The Germans never landed a single batallion on Great Britain, even when they had complete control of the French side of the English Channel. While they were able to push into Russian territory, that was an overbite and spelled the beginning of the end for them, as the Russians repelled them all the way back to Berlin. In our war against the Japanese, one reason for pushing the use of this new uber-bomb we were developing was because the military leaders knew too well just how ferocious the fighting would be on the Japanese home islands, and that it would cost thousands more American lives. So we used a weapon that had never been used before – or since. The atomic bomb.

Even right now in Iraq and Aghanistan, our soldiers are fighting thousands of miles from home against forces that could never reach those homes. The forces we are fighting against are, by and large, fighting for their own homes right now against a force they see as oppressive.

But if we pull back and set up a true defensive perimeter around our own homes, we pull back to a position of strength and core motivation while at the same time decreasing the enemies motivation, as they are no longer fighting for their homes. We make America safer both ways of looking at it! Instead of a large force spread over a large area, we concentrate that large force on a very (relatively) compact area – making it MUCH more effective.

The final benefit of keeping the military at the same levels while simply re-tasking it as a defensive force?

Remember the second part of the Sexton Doctrine -“make DANG SURE you deliver the LAST blow”? If an attack IS, in some incredibly remote way, able to defeat every single defensive measure we have and actually strike a blow in the US, that offensive force that we’ve intentionally kept as a defensive force?

It can rapidly be activated as an overwhelming offensive force once again, for the specific task of making dang sure we deliver the last blow.

One Reply to “Non-Interventionism, The Sexton Doctrine, and GI Joe”

  1. “Even right now in Iraq and Aghanistan, our soldiers are fighting thousands of miles from home against forces that could never reach those homes. The forces we are fighting against are, by and large, fighting for their own homes right now against a force they see as oppressive.”

    Jeff, I agree with much of what you write, but not this. The fact that 9/11 was coordinated out of Afghanistan for the express purpose of attacking our homeland would dispel the first sentence of your statement and the fact that many of the Al Qaeda types in Afghanistan in 2001 were NOT Afghans, but actually foreign terrorists who had taken up residence there, having been given sanctuary by the Taliban (eg. Bin Laden is Saudi), would disprove the second sentence about defending their homes.

    It might be comforting to think we can stand off and fight these terrorists from a distance with cruise missiles and special forces, but it’s not realistic. It’s often forgotten that after Bin Laden attacked two American embassies in 1998, Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes on Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

    This was ineffective. The Taliban stayed in power and Al Qaeda stayed welcome and in residence.
    Three years later, 9/11 happened, launched from the same country.

    I can give other examples, but if you leave in place regimes that harbor terrorists who have expressed a demonstrable intent and ability to attack us, we aren’t safe, no matter how far away we are. There is no substitute for regime change in these instances.

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